The Germans locked me in a church

Greetings, everyone! Thanks for checking out my blog. I’ll be using this site to share some of my experiences here in Germany that I think friends and family might enjoy reading about. The first installment is below…


While in Marburg, I had the privilege of visiting and getting to know a wonderful church. They were incredibly generous and kind to me.

But they did lock me inside their building.

As you could probably guess, this little episode was an accident (I think).

Here’s how it happened:

I went to services and gatherings at the Evangelische Freikirche Marburg (Independent Protestant Church) for several weeks. This particular evening I was attending a Monday night worship service for young adults. This was the last church function I would have the chance to attend before moving to Freiburg, so I knew this was going to be goodbye.

The service and the gathering afterward were meaningful and enjoyable. As people started to leave, I tarried to speak with as many of my new friends as possible. When I was ready to go, I decided to first quickly use the church restroom. After doing so, I realized that the last few folks had left and locked up the building while I had been otherwise engaged.

My first thought was how fortunate I was that fire codes require doors in public buildings to be unlockable from the inside. Nothing to worry about.

If I had been in the U.S., the reassuring voice in my head telling me I wasn’t trapped inside a church at 9 pm might have been right. But it seems that German fire codes are a bit less stringent than their American cousins. I walked up to the church’s backdoor and pushed. And then pulled. Tried to find a knob to turn. Nothing worked.

I then began a systematic check of all other doors to the outside. All of them were locked.

At this point, I should have probably paused to ponder the theological significance of my predicament. Was this a sign? Was it punishment? Did the Almighty want me to derive some sort of meaning from all of this?

I hope not, because I didn’t. I just started looking for an unlocked window, which I found on my second try. I carefully hoisted myself over the sill and alighted gingerly on the ground below.


After looking around to make sure no one had seen what had just transpired (I was embarrassed and also didn’t want anyone calling the cops), I started walking home.

The moral of the story? The words of the Reverend Mother in “The Sound of Music” come to mind:

“When God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.”

And thank goodness He did. That would have been a long night.

2 thoughts on “The Germans locked me in a church

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  1. James, Maybe there is something in your genes: your great -grandmother, Anne Ruth (Amma) reported two out the window escapes she made at about your age. While visiting a friend at the Normal School she did not want to comply with the Sunday afternoon dorm rule of resting so climbed out a window and went back to the UGA campus. At a later date she made an evening window exit from Memorial Hall Library…something about lost keys. Your incident was made in more holy circumstances.


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